Intro: Conservation is as important as creation. What profit is gained if what is begun does not last? [your health; your business; your marriage, our nation, – a church or congregation of God’s people.] It is joyful occasion when the gospel is preached, people obey the message, and a church begins in a locality. But will that church still be there down the road? Will it still be faithful to the Lord? Can what was created be sustained, or conserved?
I. Paul and the Church at Ephesus:
A. In about 52 A.D. Paul visited Ephesus for the first time, but he was only able to stay a short time. He left Priscilla and Aquilla there to teach, and promised the Christians there he would return.
B. As recorded in Acts 19, during what is called his third preaching tour, Paul visited Ephesus again and remained there 3 ½ years, teaching publicly and from house to house, (Acts 20:20). He invested more time with this congregation than any other church recorded in the NT.
C. After traveling through Macedonia and Achaia, on his way back to Jerusalem, Paul makes special arrangements to meet with the elders of the Ephesian church at Miletus. He knew this was his last opportunity to encourage them in person. Acts 20 records his words.
• Acts 20:22-31 – And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
- Paul knew he had tough days ahead in Jerusalem. But his concern was for this church. Notice what he concerned about. He told these elders that the wolves were coming after the flock, and that some would come from their own number.
D. Possibly ten years after his first visit to Ephesus, after the history contained in the book of Acts has transpired, the apostle writes the first of two personal letters to his young protégé, Timothy. Timothy was at Ephesus. Paul had instructed him to remain there. Why was it so important to Paul for Timothy to remain in Ephesus?
• 1 Tim 1:1-4– Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, 2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia — remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
II. Teach No Other Doctrine. The apostle was still concerned about this church. Not because of outside persecution or suffering. The greatest threat was not environmental or political. It was doctrinal. Just as years before, Paul understood the threat posed by those who come speaking perverse things, drawing away disciples. Timothy is to charge (command) those who teach, to teach no other doctrine.
A. The phrase, “teach no other doctrine” is a single compound word in the original language. It is a combination of (heteros) other and (didaskaleo) teach modified by the negative no, or do not. This simple negative command implies something. It implies that there is an initial, or original doctrine that is a different one.
• example – If Diane gives me a list and says go to the grocery store and get only what is on this list (use no other list) What would that imply? How should I interpret that? It would make no sense if I had not been given a list previously. It implies the presence of an initial and objective
• Paul’s command implies an initial teaching that was objective and intended to be retained without alteration. That is an important perspective that is denied on many levels today.
• Would it also be implied to Timothy that he was not to allow another doctrine to be taught alongside of the original teaching?
- Paul partially identifies the false doctrine that Timothy is to reject in v. 4: “nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. (other translations of this verse:
• 1 Tim 1:4– or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith. (HCSB)
• 1 Tim 1:4 –nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work — which is by faith. (NIV)
a. There were those who were placing emphasis on stories (myths) and ancestral lineage (genealogies) as though these had a place in the gospel message. It is difficult to know the specifics of their doctrine or how they were using it in Ephesus, but the message was clear… these additions had no place with the doctrine of Christ. That doctrine was to be received by faith – faith comes by hearing the words of God.(Rom 10:17)
b. There are many things flowing from pulpits today that have no place alongside the doctrine of Christ. Those who preach physical fitness, healthy eating and exercise, the prosperity gospel, political agendas, or human traditions are teaching another doctrine. The implication of Paul’s command is an objective, continually authoritative truth.
2. It also assumes that Timothy understood what this initial doctrine was, and how to distinguish it from “another” doctrine. This command calls on Timothy to have the courage to make this distinction apparent to others (those who teach it, and those who might be influenced by it).What is this initial, objective, authoritative doctrine? (note: the word doctrine means “teaching” (didaskalos).
III. The Sound Words of Our Lord – Later Paul issues a similar command to Timothy. 1 Timothy 6:3-5– If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (ESV) The NKJV adds the admonition at the end of v. 5 – from such withdraw yourself.We will study these verses more thoroughly later in the year, but notice here…
A. The doctrine contrasted to the different doctrine is the “sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The word sound (hugiaino – hoog-ee-ah’-ee-no); – means healthy (safe & sound) as to its effect; it also connotes purity, incorruptness as to its character. Paul references sound doctrine, sound words, or being sound in the faith 8 times in the letters to Timothy and Titus.
1. How can we conclude, as many do today, that doctrine is inconsequential to unity or salvation. The apostle put it as a high priority for Timothy, and others who would teach or lead. What we teach must be sound. (How many people today are concerned about a healthy diet, pure food and clean hands? Oh, if we only had that care in our spiritual diet)
2. But Timothy, as far we know, had never heard Jesus teach. How could Timothy know the sound words of Jesus Christ? Were they to be intuitively determined by Timothy? Did Jesus reveal them mystically or personally to Timothy? Later in the beginning of his second letter, Paul again commands Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:13 – Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (ESV). Timothy had heard the words of Jesus from Paul, the apostle. (Notice again that Paul tells Timothy that these original words constitute a pattern to be followed.)
B. The Authority of Apostolic Doctrine: It is clear from Jesus’ own words that He intended to exercise His authority through his apostles. When Jesus was upon the earth, he always taught the truth, but He did not teach all the truth. He told his apostles that He had other things that they were not ready for, but that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. John 16:12-13 – “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 14:26 – 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. – If Christ has all authority and the apostles were to be guided into all truth, then the apostles must be the avenue through which Jesus would exercise His authority.
1. In Acts 1, Jesus told these same apostles that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. (1:6-8)
2. The apostles recognized and expressed this delegated authority. 2 Cor. 5:20 – Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. – the apostles represented Christ. To reject their word was to reject Christ. Luke 10:16 – “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” 1 Thess 2:13 – For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
3. Although the apostles exercised authority in the N.T. church, they always recognized the absolute position of Christ as the head of the church. – 2 Cor 4:5-7 – For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
4. Apostolic teaching emerged as the authority in the NT church. – Acts 2:42 – they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
a. Disputed matters in the church of the NT were settled by an appeal to what the apostles taught and wrote through the Holy Spirit. Notice this illustrated in the letters of Paul in the 1st century.
b. Even though Paul taught at Thessalonica, he found it necessary to write 2 letters to them to correct a misunderstanding about the second coming.
c. Paul spent 18 months at Corinth and the church had prophets among them, but they still had problems. How were they solved? Through the written words of Paul. “I have written to you not to keep company..”
5. Apostolic doctrine, as the true message of the Holy Spirit was to be taught as the continuing standard of the church. The truth of God was not a dynamic, ever evolving subjective standard. It was contained in the writings of the apostles and was the objective standard for every generation.
a. In the earliest writings of Paul, the apostle, he warned against accepting another standard other than the apostolic message. Gal 1:8 – But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
b. Whatever was taught in one church by the apostles was taught in all the churches. 1 Cor. 4:16-17 – “Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.” Thus the pattern for Christianity was drawn for all time. We strive to follow that pattern today, looking for apostolic teaching for all that we do. This was the basis of the unity that existed in the 1stcentury, and will be the basis of it today. We need to set our watches by the word of God.
Conclusion: In one of the last books of the NT, there remains a call for unity of practice and faith based on the single source of authority. 2 John 8-11 – Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
Doctrine does matter. The doctrinal pattern for Christians was drawn for all time in the 1st We strive to follow that pattern today, looking for apostolic teaching for all that we do. Committed to teaching no other doctrine than the doctrine of Christ contained in scripture. ” If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11).Are you willing to submit to the doctrine of Christ alone? Mark 16:16- 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.